Private Herbert Townsend, B Company, 4th Northants, son of Mr. and Mrs. Townsend, of Warmond’s Hill, Higham Ferrers, is home on six weeks’ leave, being convalescent after an attack of enteric fever at the Dardanelles. Interviewed by a “Rushden Echo” representative, he said:-
“We landed on the Gallipoli Peninsular on August 15th and immediately went into the trenches. I think it was unwise of the authorities to place us immediately in the firing line without giving us a chance of becoming acclimatised. At any rate, more of us were out of action by sickness than by wounds, for the climate was terrible. What with the flies, the heat, the lack of water, and a hundred other disagreeable things, I think Gallipoli altogether was a ‘rough shop.’
“I was in Gallipoli just over six weeks, and while there I saw Private Cyril Cook, of Rushden, shot through the head. There was an observation party of six men, including Cyril Cook and myself. As I came off the observation post Cyril Cook went on. When he had been there twenty minutes he was shot through the head. He was not killed instantly, but called for water. We knew, however, that his wound was fatal, and the last I saw of him was as he was being carried away.
“I have had some narrow escapes in Gallipoli. We used to have voluntary bathing parades at one time, and, one day, while we were bathing, some Turkish gunners off Beachy Bill, as it was called, spotted us and bombarded us for half-an-hour. Nobody was hit, however, and presently a British cruiser steamed up and silenced the Turkish battery with her guns. So we had our bathe after all.
“The same afternoon we went bathing again and on this occasion Capt. Dorman was killed by shrapnel. This put the stopper on bathing.
“I had many more escapes, but I took no notice of them. It is marvellous how soon you get used to escapades and firing in the fighting line.
“I came through without a wound, but contracted enteric fever in the trenches. I was taken suddenly ill one morning. At first I thought it was influenza. I had my temperature taken and was placed on the boat immediately. I was unconscious for three days, and was taken to Gibraltar.
“The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who were billeted at Higham and Rushden, were entrenched on our right. I don’t think there are many of the chaps left who went out with me.
“As to the whole campaign in the Dardanelles, it seems to me that very little progress has been made. We are practically at a standstill. The British and French are merely holding the Turks, preventing them from going to help their comrades in other quarters.”